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The Challenge’s End, New Challenge Tomorrow.

August 1st, 2010

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12WC-WEEKLY-BUTTON

The 12 Week Challenge wrapped back the first week of July. However I haven’t gotten around to writing my followup to the last two weeks challenges until now. That certainly isn’t because I didn’t do the challenge tasks. But more because the last two tasks are very practical things, that will be continued for the entire length of time I’m illustrating. Things like refining mailing lists, networking with the people who will hire you, and setting up various business practices.

While these things are very necessary to any potential career, exciting blog posts they are not. Combine this with preparations for the insanity that was this year’s 48 Hour Film Project (Next post will be the write up for this) and what you get is Warren working on these tasks in the background and not mentioning them.

While these tasks weren’t exactly the stuff of rock star blog posts, they are [b]very[/b] important. One needs to know what their process for bring in new clients is. What they wish to be their standard practice for kill fees etc etc. These are the exact kind of tasks I was looking for when I signed on for the challenge to begin with. Mainly because these are the “unpleasant” tasks to trying to run any illustration business. Sitting around coming up with ideas and making them is the fun part. And why anyone would want to be an illustrator in the first place. But you don’t get to do that (without another source of income at least) without getting your work out there and having systems in place to hopefully make it a self sustaining practice. So that’s just what I worked on in Week’s 11-12.

Since that was a pretty short recap with little real content, I figured I’d share my thoughts on the Challenge as a whole.

I entered the 12 Week Challenge on a complete whim. Didn’t give it a second thought. Jonathan Woodward put out a call for participants and probably within five minutes I had my bio and sample image to him. It’s turned out to be a very engaging challenge and a lot of lessons were learned and benefits were reaped. Many of which I didn’t anticipate going into this thing.

As I said earlier my main reason for joining had to do with getting better about networking, business practices, and the like. There are large periods of time where I get wrapped up in large projects and as I do this it can mean I potentially drop off the radar a bit. And for someone like myself that may hardly be on the radar at all yet, this is pretty bad news indeed. I honestly need to get better about taking advantage of “face time” and reaching out more to potential clients. Particularly follow ups. And this was the exact kind of things that quite a few of the week’s challenges set out to address.

Another benefit of the Challenge was that I found out about so many great people by participating. An entire community was built up around performing these tasks together, and that itself was something I didn’t really foresee when I signed up. But I’ve been well pleased with the results of having so many new contacts, for getting feedback on things and to pose questions to. Many of them are very talented illustrators as well.

In this way I owe a lot of thanks to Jonathan and his wife Lea for having run this challenge in the first place. For something I didn’t give a thought to when I signed up, it’s proven to be an amazingly useful exercise and I’ve learned things and put practices into place that I’ll certainly carry with me into the future. Which means to me MISSION ACCOMPLISHED on the 12 Week Challenge.

With all this said, tomorrow starts a new Challenge for those of us who signed up for the follow up. It’s a shorter one this time. It’s called the 4 Week Portfolio Challenge. I signed up for this one for a couple of reasons. I felt one or two of the pieces I created during the original’s Challenge weren’t as strong as they could have been. So I want to correct that this time around. And also most of my outside work right now is writing and developing of things that won’t see the light of day for a while yet. As such it is a means for me to NOT get completely wrapped up in those things and disappear [b]again[/b]. More soon!

12wkch

Brief update (promise of more to come). Ripple card wave 2.

July 24th, 2010

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So there is much to blog about. But there hasn’t been much time or energy to do so. I desperately need to finish my write up of the 12 Week Challenge. And maybe pimp out the new clubhouse area.

I also need to give a run down of this year’s 48 Hour Film Project. Team Hand Turkey went big this year. And in my admittedly own biased opinion we came up with our best effort yet. The debut screening is today at 4PM EST here at the Byrd. After the premiere we’ll be able to host it online. And I’ll shamelessly pimp share it with any and every one interested in seeing it.

In other news and to prevent this from being a post devoid of content beyond the promise of future content. A week or so ago for my warm up drawing I decide to do another sketch card to donate to Kelly Light’s phenomenal cause Ripple Sketches.

Please take the time to look over what’s being offered over there. Some really awesome art is being put up for very little money. BUT 100% of that money is going towards animal rescue in the Gulf. Do a good thing, and get great art. It’s win win.

I’m happy to say there has already been a donation to the Sea Turtle Conservancy for this card, and it will soon be living in Reno, NV with one of my fellow 12 Weekers (Thanks Donna Jeanne!). But so much great art is getting posted every day I’m sure you can find something to tickle your fancy.

Again more posting, more often soon. But now I need to clean myself up a bit*. I got a film showing!

*Just a bit mind you. This is Richmond. And it is over 100° F today.

12wkch, Projects, Things I'm involved with

Week 10 The turn for home.

June 30th, 2010

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Week 10, was about making a mailer. Thanks to the folks I showed this to on my way to doing it. As always people who’ll critique for you are priceless. The penultimate week of the challenge has just been posted today. It’s task is setting up to send these out. Thus beginning the never ending promotional cycle in earnest. There is much homework to be done.

12wkch

Week 7: On Branding

June 3rd, 2010

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So the work for weeks 7 & 8 have been done. Much of it prior to the challenge honestly. So thankfully due to that I feel like in fairly short order I’ll finally be up and running again current with the challenge. Who knows? I may even hit the finish line on time. Week 7’s task is a deceptively challenging one, and one while I feel like I have a handle on, I’m not sure I’ve completely nailed it all together perfectly *just* yet. Anyway off to the challenge tasks, there will be run on sentences. Be warned.

The name for your business/project/service: This one is simple enough. I do all of my networking under my name and also my personal domain/and email addresses are also just my name as well. So Warren Belfield or Warren Belfield Illustration it is. Although I will say I feel for any of my fellow participants in the challenge with more unusual or less common names. My name is fairly straight forward, and while Belfield isn’t the most common surname in the world by a long shot I’m still surprised when people manage to mangle it. The number of times I’ve been called “Mr. Benfield”, “Mr. Battlefield”, and oddly “Mr. Garfield” gives me a laugh.

What your brand stands for (3 words) This is where I admit to being terrible at doing this kind of thing for myself. I’ve done some work where coming up with the angle for the project really came down to these little digestible bullet points before. Even worked on an ad spot that the entire pitch for it was Four words total. So I know it can be done, and it can be valuable. I don’t know, I almost want to turn this into a game for myself. Which is probably the EXACT wrong thing to do. I just have a hard time doing the buzz word thing with a straight face. I’m sure it’s something I should probably get over and realize class clowning isn’t always the way to go.

Spit-balling this with a frequent collaborator, I’m still not sure I cam up with much. His recommendation was:
Monsters, Miscreants, and Mayhem – which while I’m probably guilty of pushing all three at one time or another, I don’t think I’m necessarily ready for that tight of a pigeon hole just yet.

However other than that suggestion the best I’ve managed was:
Not From Concentrate which certainly isn’t taking a three word pitch very seriously at all.

Yeah I may strike out on this one.

A logo or some sort of visual identifier for the above: The closest thing to a logo or visual identifier I’ve been using would be the font I use for the url. It’s a modified version of a font called hammerkeys. What I’ve done to it is cut out the uppercase letters completely and mirrored the distressed bar found at the top of the font at the bottom as well. Thinking about it, one day I should just make a proper vector file of it so I’m not remaking it in Photoshop every time I need to resize it.

For instance this is my current Business card, the other font is called Typewrong if you’re interested in that sort of thing.
Personal-card-design-2-web

A colour scheme for your brand (a primary colour and complimentary secondary colour palette): Since launching this site I’ve been using a mixture of black/white/and warm orange browns. In what is only a coincidence I assure you, since launching the site a lot of what I’ve been doing has been ink drawings on paper stained with coffee…which makes for warm orange brown paper. I wish I could say “I planned it that way.” But that’s something that just kind of happened.

Now those are the tasks more or less. (Man 3 word pitches. I’m doing it wrong) Here’s the analysis bit:

1. What single core message do you want to convey to your audience?

If I got to pick what people take away from my stuff, I’d like to think things like the effort I take in not only producing the work, but conceptualizing it comes through. Also I’d like to think “my voice” as it were is readily apparent in what I’m producing. No matter the subject matter, or media I’m using at a particular time. Also if more hyperbolic words were to enter into the discussion, I wouldn’t mind in the least. Also I would accept “I’ll buy it!”

2. What 3 words would you like people to use to describe your illustration business/service?

In a perfect world? I’d like those first three words to be “My first choice”

3. What colours convey the image you’d like to portray to a global audience?

I’m pretty good with what I’m using right now. I feel like it fits where I’m at in my work currently. Right now I feel my limited palette or straight black and white work is stronger than my full color work. This is something I really plan on addressing in personal work sometime in the not so distant future. So doing everything as Black/White/spot color for now seems appropriate.

4. What look and feel most communicate what you’re trying to convey most effectively (does it reflect the style/medium you work in)?

I’m not sure really. I just kind of draw the way I draw. For years I tried to fit the styles of what I really like and found myself fighting against what I naturally did, especially when I saw things trending away from what I was doing. Nowadays I’m just doing what I do, and I’m hoping to build up an audience as I go. It’s way less stressful this way. I’d assume it could be described as graphic since line really carries the work in most of what I do. It’s realistic without being photorealistic (I admire the draftsmanship in photorealism but it isn’t for me).

5. What kind of language will your audience best respond to? Formal, informal, slang, any global/international considerations?

Judging by the things I’m typically called upon to work on, and my own personal preferences. I’d have to say informal, but not to the point of absolute laziness to language. I don’t believe I’ll eschew things like a basic attempt at grammar, or attempts at proper spelling. I tend not to use leet or emoticons when I type if I can avoid it. But let’s be honest, I just drew a guy with a squid head TOTALLY EATING THE BRAINS of some guy. “Dear Sir or Madam” may not work for me.

6. Will your brand include an identifiable glyph or icon that could, in time, become associated with you and your work? If so, what single icon best reflects you/your work?

Right now the closest thing would be the font I use for my url. Images will change as I change what I’m promoting myself with.

This one turned into more words than I expected. I obviously had more going on in my head than I thought.

12wkch

Down to the Wire

May 22nd, 2010

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Alright folks, getting down to the wire on the portfolio pieces portion of the challenge. (Even if I have fallen slightly behind) This one was done for two fold reasons. The first being to have a concept styled drawing that is finished enough it could also be used as a spot illustration. The other was to design a prop for the sixth and final piece.

I need a ray gun for my last illustration, and thought spending the time to design it before I had to place it in the composition would allow for a more interesting prop. (At least that was the intention)

As far as this being a more concept oriented illustration, that’s certainly true, but it would be worth noting that since this is for a one off image I only designed the view that would be visible in the piece it is for. So while it works for its’ exact purpose for me. If this were for an ongoing project I would have designed multiple views of the gun, but in trade off probably wouldn’t have taken all of the views all the way to a finish.

Anyway less words more pictures. Again these are taken with a camera, real scans forthcoming, as I plan to do a wrap up post when all six pieces are completed.

Ray-Gun-WiP1

This was the initial pass of inks on this one. At this point I took a picture and showed it off to a few sets of fresh eyes. It was pretty universal that the grip was at far too much of a right angle to the rest of the gun.

Ray-Gun-WiP2

This shows off a couple things. I’d already started building up some of the whites in the piece when the feedback got back to me, so it not only shows how I changed the shape of the grip, but also gives a glimpse at how the whites are built up.

Ray-Gun-final

And this is what I ended up with after a handful of passes on it. At about 3/4 of the way through I tend to go back in with more black ink and try to push the shapes a little harder. On this one the biggest lesson I learned was that it is perfectly okay to razorblade inks on stained paper. Thankfully the water color paper is absorbent enough that the neutral tone is all the way through. This technique was used for modeling the grip to the gun if you’re interested in where I did this.

Done in black and white inks, and a bit of white colored pencil to the grip on coffee stained water colored paper.

So to recap 5 of six pieces complete. And Laser pistols are awesome.

Thanks for looking.

Ray-Gun-final2

ETA: After sharing a link here to the 12 Week Challenge Clubhouse, I received yet more useful advice. One of my concerns was punched home to me that the main body of the gun blended too much with the paper. So I went back in and beefed up the darks and lights there. My intention is to still let the tone come through, but add enough to it for it to seem finished. Hopefully that point is coming across. If not let me know.

12wkch, Process Work

Within Striking Distance

May 18th, 2010

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I did this with the idea of it being potentially a black and white interior style image. This was very much a getting back to basics kind of drawing for me. It felt good just to do some line art for a change. And to top it off it’s a picture of a MIND FLAYER. The thing is born as a tentacled tadpole that is injected into another creatures brain where it turns it into a Mind Flayer. Oh and they eat brains through their squid heads. Oddly their are surprisingly few images to be found of them in the act of eating brains. This is me trying to shift the balance by one. Brace yourselves for another cellphone picture taken at a slightly crooked angle. (I’ll get decent scans when I can slow down a bit, promise.

Mind-Flayed

With this one, I’m not a 100% sure I think it *feels* finished. But I’m going to give it a bit to rest, as I’m keen on not over working it if I can help it. It’s done on watercolor paper so if I feel a pressing need I can add some washes to it at a later date. Or possibly scan and color it if I’m feeling ambitious.

Thoughts as always are more than welcome.

12wkch

The Challenge Continues

May 16th, 2010

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This is the beginnings of my Week 5 posts. Coming in at the end of Week 6. There is a make up week coming for this week, so I’ll be drawing furiously to catch back up. Hopefully posts will follow at a quicker clip. This past week saw a day trip up to D.C. to the National Zoo, as well as numerous Mother Day plans. All well worth it for the mothers in my life (My mom, my wife, and her mother) So needless to say drawing time was at a premium. Although I’d like to think I made the most of the time at the table.

In my haste to do so unfortunately my WiP photo is from pretty far into the process of finishing this one. At this point I’d felt my eyes had gone a bit fatigued to the composition so I posted it to the challenge clubhouse to get some fresh eyes on it.
Hydra-WIP

As always I got some valuable insight into it, and with that took this one to a finish. Which I think came out pretty well. This one was done with black ink and white ink using a brush on toned paper. I’ve really become comfortable working in this matter over the last couple months.

Hydra

12wkch, Process Work

Week 4 – New Direction

May 6th, 2010

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Okay, so currently I’m a full half week behind. However I believe I’ve learned a lot of things in my failures over the last ten or so days. The first being I’m not nearly fast enough to work a traditional painting at a commercial pace. Also I may need to hit the old drawing board to revisit my color work. I tend to work with limited color palettes, because for me it’s an easy way to balance tones. I always feel like my full color stuff is a little too technicolor processed. I should have paid more attention in painting classes I guess. More practice needed there I believe. So watch out folks UGLY paintings in the future.

Anyway here’s my latest challenge piece. I did this up yesterday. It’s in response to a story excerpt in the current The Strand Magazine titled SMILES by Alexander McCall Smith.

Smiles-WiP Inks only.

Smiles Finish

Once I’ve collected the six pieces to be done I’ll get them all properly scanned. But for now these are some nearly functional digital photos.

12wkch, Process Work